Eat green for a healthy body and planet
Friday, March 20, 2009
Good sence eating
After our brutal winter, many of us are itching to get outside and dig in the dirt. Whether we have a large suburban garden or just a tiny pot outside our city home, the urge to plant something green is undeniable.
Homegrown vegetables and herbs provide these benefits:
• Helps children understand where food comes from.
• Fresh-picked produce are at their peak of nutrition.
• Saves money, especially when starting from seed.
When planting your own garden, there are no worries about pesticides or bacterial run-off from nearby farms. You avoid long distance transportation—from farm to distribution center to supermarket—that burns gasoline and emits greenhouse gases.
Food matters deeply, according to Kate Geagan, a registered dietitian and author of the new book, Go Green Get Lean: Trim Your Waistline with the Ultimate Low-Carbon Diet. "With kids, it’s even more important. Sowing the seeds of healthy eating, fostering a respect for where food comes from and making the connection between a healthy body and a healthy planet represent one of the most clear cut, straightforward win-wins in the global warming crisis."
Tips for going green
Geagan, herself a mother of two toddlers, gives the following tips for parents who would like to "go green:"
• Focus on the food chain. Where you eat on the food chain is the biggest determinant of your footprint.
• Hit farmers markets to cut food miles and improve flavor (and likely nutrient density).
• Join a CSA or community-supported agriculture group. (www.localharvest.org)
• Go meatless twice a week. Eating like a flexitarian reaps health, economic and green benefits.
• Tap your tap instead of costly and fossil-fuel-heavy bottled and canned beverages. Get a filter for your tap or water pitcher or consider reverse osmosis to remove contaminants.
• Shop smartly. One study found that about 30 percent of a food’s total impact was from your behaviors as an individual (driving to the store, using plastic bags vs. bringing your own, cooking in old appliances, etc.)
• Eat real food rather than food products. Processing and packaging adds significantly to a food’s footprint and often degrades nutritional value compared to whole foods.
• Start putting your dining dollars toward restaurants committed to delicious and sustainable food. Look for mission statements and menu descriptions. Visit the Green Restaurant Association Web site to see who has green certification.
• Get the dish on your fish. Log onto www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_regional.aspx and buy only what gets a "green light" for your region. Try to limit air-flown fish.
What are some other ways you can "slow your resource burn"?
Consider how much food-related trash goes to the dump each week. Recycle packaging, bring your own bags and start composting. Geagan says about 12 percent of an average home’s garbage is food waste that could be composted. In addition to food choices, look for eco chic labels like fair trade, organic and rainforest alliance.
"The typical American diet not only fuels obesity and chronic disease; it is the SUV of eating styles. It’s actually quite simple: clean, healthy, real food is the best way to a lean and healthy body," Geagan says.
Ask Good Sense Eating:
How important is it to buy the superfruits I keep hearing about, like açaí, noni, mangosteen and goji berries?
These so-called superfruits are mostly a marketing gimmick and there’s no need to break the bank for them. Enjoying a variety of colorful fresh fruits does more good than obsessing over the "superfruit" of the moment. Also, consider the supply chain and the ecological footprint of exotic fruit. Noni plants grow in Hawaii, mangosteen and goji grow in Asia and the sudden interest in açaí is having an impact on the Amazon rain forests. Do these really provide more nutrition than a blended berry and orange juice smoothie? I think not.
Parmesan & Pea Couscous
• 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
• 1-1/2 cups frozen peas
• 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
• 1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Combine broth, water and oil in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Cover and let plump for five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook peas on the stovetop or in the microwave according to package directions.
3. Add the peas, dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper to the couscous; mix gently and fluff with a fork. Serve hot, sprinkled with cheese.
Makes 6 servings, 2/3 cup each
Nutrition facts per serving: 208 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 6 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrate; 10 g protein; 7 g fiber; 186 mg sodium. Recipe courtesy of EatingWell.com.
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, has grown her own vegetables and herbs for as long as she has owned a home. Her favorites are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and basil. She can be reached at Chris@ChristinePalumbo.com.